HELSINKI – United again

On Wednesday (15 April), the Finnish government decided to end the lockdown which it had imposed on the 1.7 million-strong county of Uusima including Helsinki, meaning the area is now united with the rest of the country.

Arguments for the continued restriction of the constitutional right of freedom of movement proved to be insufficient.

As the virus had now spread across the whole country, isolating one area, despite being its epicentre, could no longer be justified. Moreover, controlling the borders of just one county had overloaded police resources.

Meanwhile, other restrictions such as the closure of schools and restaurants remain. However, the government had still taken a conscious risk by opening up the southern part of the country.

Wednesday’s decision was not without its critics, particularly as medical experts are expecting a new peak in infections. Prime Minister Sanna Marin emphasised that the worst may still be ahead and appealed to common sense. “In plain Finnish, now is not the time to travel to the summer cottage,” she said.

Abruptly putting an end to Uusima’s lockdown came as a surprise to some ministers and could even split the agrarian Centre Party which sits in the five-party government. The Centre’s parliamentary wanted the closure of Uusimaa to be extended. Among the opposition, the populist Finns Party accused the government of risking lives.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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